The official groundbreaking has been held for major upgrade work at G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay.

The $33.8 million upgrade is being done in five phases, with completion expected in September 2018.

Vanier Principal Darren Freeman says the upgrades will make a big difference for staff and students at the facility.

Comox Valley MLA Don McRae attended Vanier as a student and was a teacher there. He says the upgrades will make a big difference to the school.

Freeman says a lot of work is being done to ensure a minimal disruption for students as classes are moved to accommodate the construction.